Like any other Dolfan, I suddenly became sick to my stomach when I heard that former Dolphins’ Head Coach, Tony Sparano, would be joining the hated New York Jets as their Offensive Coordinator. That was the last place I expected to see him land. After all, for the past three years, loud mouth coach Rex Ryan has only talked trash and belittled the Dolphins every chance he could. The Dolphins’ and Jets’ players and coaches loathe each other. This is one of the biggest rivals in football. Water doesn’t mix with oil and Sparano doesn’t mix with Ryan. Their style and coaching philosophies are complete opposites. How could this possibly happen?
The truth is, I like Sparano as a person and he was one of the hardest working coaches in the NFL. The man practically lived at the Miami facility putting in over 80 hours per week trying to prepare his team to win. Most importantly, the players liked and respected him even though the team was playing through a very disappointing season. Regardless, the Dolphins had to do the right thing and fire Sparano based on the potential the team had at the beginning of the season. Unfortunately for Sparano, he is already set up for failure as the new OC in New York. Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time he was set up to fail….
It doesn’t matter who is coaching a team, if you don’t have a solid signal caller in this league today you will not win games. That’s plain and simple. Mike Shanahan is a two time Super Bowl winning coach at Denver. Of course, he had one of the top ten greatest QBs in NFL history with John Elway. Today, he can barely buy a win with the Washington Redskins having Rex Grossman as his QB.
Do you think Shanahan suddenly forgot how to coach? Is he doing things dramatically differently today than he did back with the Broncos? Of course not! The reason his face is so red all the time is because he is absolutely embarrassed at who he has playing under center. If Shanahan doesn’t get a franchise QB during this offseason via the draft or free agency, he will be fired from Washington by the end of next season, just like Sparano. I can give you several more examples, but I don’t want to turn this article into a book.
In previous articles, I have already discussed how the new league “flag football” rules benefit teams with high powered offenses that can put up a bunch of points. The days of winning Super Bowls with a great defense and a mediocre offense are as extinct as VHS tapes. You have no business being in the Super Bowl conversation if you cannot consistently score 30 or more points per game. The Packers, Saints, or Pats will win this year’s Super Bowl because they can simply outscore everyone else.
Sparano will soon encounter the same anchor holding back the ship in New York as he did in Miami. Just like in Miami with Chad Henne, he will have another lemon to deal with in Mark Sanchez. In my opinion, both Henne and Sanchez are below average quarterbacks who will never take a team to the Super Bowl. Even if Bill Belichick was the Dolphins’ coach this past season he would have been fired just like Sparano, if he had to rely on Henne to win close games. Like the old saying, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Sparano knows this all too well.
The Jets traded their first two picks and three players to the Cleveland Browns to move up and select Sanchez fifth overall in the 2009 draft. He was expected to be the next Joe Namath. Three years later, he has practically been labeled a “bust.” Sanchez finished the 2011 season with 26 turnovers. He was ranked 28th overall in completion percentage and according to ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating he finished 30th among QBs. The season just ended two weeks ago and the Jets are already on the brink of disaster.
Not only does Sparano have the dilemma of coaching a poor QB in Sanchez, but now there are serious issues going on in the Jets’ locker room. Apparently, “anonymous” Jet players who are “well respected” have been throwing Sanchez under the bus, practically calling him a “lazy, content” loser who cannot win in this league. In fact, these same anonymous players claimed they would prefer to get Peyton Manning because Sanchez could never lead them to a Super Bowl. It’s obvious the Jets are in complete chaos and have no faith at all in their QB, the most important position on any football team.
Sparano has a huge mess on his hands, again. As the new OC, the weight of Gotham City rests on his shoulders. It’s up to him to improve an offense in disarray with a pretty boy QB, who continues to regress each year. Like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, Sparano has a gigantic challenge ahead. He will have one shot to right this ship or he will be gone in a “New York minute.” In my opinion, Sparano is in a lose-lose situation, already set up to fail. That’s of course if the Jet’s don’t land Peyton Manning…